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Apr 5, 2024 2:14 am

O’s look to jump-start offense against Pirates

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The Baltimore Orioles have displayed a knack for the dramatic through their first six games of the season.

Half of Baltimore’s four wins came on walk-off hits, but the Orioles will hope for some early offense when they open a three-game series with the host Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday.

The contest will be the Pirates’ home opener.

James McCann was Baltimore’s latest hero, ripping a two-run single to left in the bottom of the ninth to lift the Orioles to a 4-3 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday. Jordan Westburg provided the late-game heroics two nights earlier, clubbing a walk-off, two-run blast.

Games have been coming down to the wire because of an offensive lull that has seen Baltimore manage a total of 12 runs over its past four contests.

The Orioles scored 24 runs through their first two games of the season.

“You ask anybody in here, we haven’t played our best baseball yet,” Baltimore right-hander Corbin Burnes said. “So to come away 4-2 and two series wins, I think that just tells what this team’s about. Never going to give up until the last out.

“A lot of good baseball ahead of us — and a lot more better baseball ahead of us.”

Baltimore’s Grayson Rodriguez (1-0, 1.50 ERA) will hope the lineup wakes up when he makes his second start of the year on Friday.

In his season debut, Rodriguez worked six innings against the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday, allowing one run on four hits. He struck out nine and walked one as the Orioles coasted to a 13-4 win.

Rodriguez has never faced Pittsburgh, which will counter with fellow right-hander Jared Jones (1-0, 4.76).

Jones made his first major league appearance on Saturday, when he gave up three runs and three hits in 5 2/3 innings in a 9-3 road win over the Miami Marlins. Jones walked two and struck out 10.

Pirates manager Derek Shelton made sure not to overreact to the stellar outing, but he is eager to watch Jones continue to develop.

“We should be excited, but it’s also one start,” Shelton said. “I think the excitement is this a guy we drafted. … And we’ve talked about organizationally, we’re going to have to build our depth from within, and this is one of the guys that was a part of that.”

Buoyed by a young core, Pittsburgh is off to a great start, having won six of its first seven games after a 7-4 victory over the Washington Nationals on Thursday.

A lot of the Pirates’ early success can also be attributed to veteran center fielder Michael A. Taylor, who signed a one-year deal with Pittsburgh in mid-March.

Taylor is riding a seven-game hitting streak to open the campaign, going 12-for-25 (.480) with six RBIs and seven runs.

“I tried to make the best of it,” Taylor said of his extended stay in free agency. “I was given time at home that a lot of guys don’t have the opportunity to get, so I enjoyed that time with my family and my daughter.

“But at the same time, I missed being out there and being on the field with the guys. To land in this situation, I feel very fortunate the way things (worked) out.”

–Field Level Media

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